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Primary election coming August 11

Labor-endorsed Ilhan Omar faces primary challenge

Representative Ilhan Omar (center), spoke at a January 21, 2020 rally for SEIU Local 26 janitors, one of countless local union events she has joined.

Adapted from the Minneapolis Labor Review, July 24, 2020

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor

MINNEAPOLIS — The eyes of the nation will be on Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District on primary election night, Tuesday, August 11.

First-term U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, who is AFL-CIO endorsed, is facing a challenger in the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party primary who has attracted campaign donations from across the country — from some of the same millionaire donors who’ve contributed to President Donald Trump and other Republicans.

Why? “I’m someone who comes from the working class who fights for the working class,” Omar told the Labor Review. “I spend the majority of my time holding this administration accountable on education issues and labor rights issues.”

In just one term, Omar has emerged as a leading voice in Congress passing progressive bills and amendments through the House. She serves on several key committees, including the House Education and Labor Committee, House Budget Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee. She is the Whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, elected by her colleagues.

“We have extensive, deep inequality in this country which we are fighting against every day,” Omar said.

Omar has advocated for sweeping changes like implementing Medicare for All and canceling student debt, while at the same time, with Senator Bernie Sanders, authoring legislation to offer all public school students three free meals a day.

Even as Omar has earned a national profile, she also has remained engaged with the Fifth District — and especially with the local labor movement.

She attends regular labor breakfasts hosted by the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO so she can hear directly from local union members about their concerns.

And whether a local union picket line or rally has 25 people or 250 people or more, Omar has been  there to show support for educators, nurses, janitors, hotel workers. “I show up not only to offer encouragement, but to amplify their voices,” Omar said.

Ilhan Omar spoke in support of nurses at MNA picket line.

May 29, 2019: Ilhan Omar (right) spoke to the media after walking an informational picket line with members of the Minnesota Nurses Association at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

Omar is a former union member herself and walked strike lines as a member of AFSCME Local 3800.

“Labor unions have been the driving force for all positive change for workers in this country,” Omar says. “But they are under attack constantly. It is our duty to protect the victories that have been won and to push for more victories.”

“It’s been important for me to fight for workers, whether they are union or not,” she added.

Before running for Congress two years ago, Omar served one term in the Minnesota House, earning a 100 percent voting record from the Minnesota AFL-CIO over two legislative sessions.

In 2019, she earned a 74 percent voting record from the national AFL-CIO.

When Omar first ran for Congress,she also drew national attention and generated excitement as she became the first Somali-immigrant — and one of the first two Muslim women — to be elected to the U.S. House.

“To me, I feel I represent optimism about what is possible,” Omar said at that time. “I have a deep-seated belief in the possibility of our democracy…”

“It’s through an immigrant lens of someone who loves our democracy in a way that only someone who has experienced the absence of it could,” she said.
Two years later, does Omar retain that optimism? “I still do,” she told the Labor  Review. “I think for a lot of people what has transpired the last four years or even the last two years might seem like it’s not time to have optimism.”

But, she continued, “because of the strength of our democracy, we are able to continue to fend off the assault on it.”

“It is our job to continue fighting for a better future,” Omar said. “We know change is possible.”

“Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is a true champion for working families,” said Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation. “Her revolutionary advocacy, action and vision will help launch us into the new future. She is the right person at the right time because of her life experience and leadership style. She literally walks the walk with us on picket lines. Working families have an ally in Congress with Ilhan Omar.”

In addition to AFL-CIO backing, Omar’s other labor endorsements include AFSCME Council 5, Education Minnesota, National Nurses United, Painters District Council 82, SEIU Minnesota State Council, and Teamsters Local 120.

Omar also is endorsed by the DFL Party.

National and state political leaders who have endorsed Omar for re-election include: U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the Minnesota House Melissa Hortman, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (see other endorsements).

Ilhan Omar campaign website: ilhanomar.com

 

Other key primary contests

Other AFL-CIO endorsed candidates with key primary contests include:

Cindy Hansen, running for Anoka County Commissioner, District 6.

Alfreda Daniels and Sizi Goyah, running for Brooklyn Center City Council At Large (vote for two).

Ray Dehn, running for re-election for Minnesota House District 59B.

Jeff Hayden, running for re-election for Minnesota State Senate District 62.

 

Ilhan Omar (right) at breakfast hosted MRLF

U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (right) has met with union members to learn their concerns at regular labor breakfasts hosted by the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation. At the May 28, 2019 event, she spoke with Tony McGarvey (left), government affairs liaison for Painters District Council 82.


Ilhan Omar listened to union members at a breakfast hosted by the MRLF.

May 28, 2019: U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar listened to union members discuss their concerns at breakfast meeting hosted by the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.

See also:
> Set to make history, Ilhan Omar works to boost 5th District vote
(Minneapolis Labor Review, 9-28-18)

 



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